Saturday, September 18, 2021

When the Family Gives you Their "Stuff"


When you spend a lifetime devoted to preserving your ancestors' history, you sometimes find yourself becoming the keeper of the family "stuff," as prolific author Denise Levenick calls it. She may call herself—and her occasional blogThe Family Curator, but I was recently reminded of the moniker I had adopted for myself, having gone through much the same process: "biographer of insignificant lives."

And so I have become, blogging about family stories over the past ten years. Somehow in the midst of this process, visiting family in far-flung locations, I've accumulated quite a bit of "stuff." None of it, unfortunately, has been anything like those lovely antique treasures (which somehow made their way to someone else), but let's just call these acquisitions of mine micro-treasures.

Still, I have to come up with a way to sort, organize, and store them. Lately, I've been going through old photographs of these micro-treasures and ran across one item which perhaps only a mother would save. It was a newspaper clipping—one of the sort which sheared off any mention of the name of the publication or even the date. Nice clipping of a relative, but the genealogist in me would have liked to know more.

Glued neatly to the center of a black scrapbook page, here is what I had.

                                          William M'Clellan

William, who is 12 years old, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. R. C. McClellan, 2804 Jefferson street. He was awarded the cup shown here for obtaining the greatest number of safety pledges from citizens in recent safety campaign sponsored by the Tampa Motor club. He is a pupil in 7 A-S, George Washington Junior High school.

Of course, I already knew who the young boy was—my maternal grandmother's baby brother—but I've had other cases of photographs or newspaper clippings where even the name wasn't provided to go along with the picture. Since I knew not only this boy's name, but where he grew up, I decided to put my multiple newspaper subscription services to good use and see if I could relocate the clipping in its original setting, just for the sake of a full reference.

Thanks to, I found the exact article, which had first appeared in the Tampa Morning Tribune on Friday, January 27, 1928, page seven, at the top of column two. I can now mark my copy with the reference, and if my collection of the family "stuff" ever gets passed along to a subsequent member of the family, that lucky inheritor won't have to go through the treasure hunt all over again.

Unless, of course, it's the thrill of the hunt that keeps people like us going. 

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